I had never given much thought to Montenegro. Sailing, too, was new to me. But being close to the ocean and the shores has always felt right and the Adriatic waters enticed me to take the plunge.
For seven days the yacht was our home. Setting off from the southern city of Bar in Montenegro, not far from the Albanian border, we sailed north along the lush coast.
A mix of rugged and forested coastlines, sunken, deep blue caves and the washed-out pastels of hillside homes make up the view from the water. Eyeing a sandy stretch of beach we raised the sails with the bow pointed into the wind before slowing down to take a dive.
Turning into the Bay of Kotor early in the evening, a dramatic landscape of towering mountains sinking steeply into the sea met us. The motor hummed and rays of sunlight bounced off the waves as we glanced around at a scenery both surreal and humbling all at once.
Original stone walls wrap around the charming old town of Kotor: a well-preserved, medieval entity and Unesco world heritage site. Along the cobbled streets, one can find cosy restaurants, antique stores and markets selling fresh produce. By the marina, orange trees bend with ripe fruit and fishermen huddle on stools with buckets of bait, patient until the sun begins to set.
A little further up north, we travelled to Herceg Novi, a quaint, picturesque town, and a gem on the Adriatic. Buzzing with optimism and life, we spotted artist workshops through open doors and a live band played well into the night on the café lined promenade. Dining is cheap and kitchens are open late, with the Mediterranean restaurants priding themselves on their catch of the day. We ate mussels, grilled sea bass, lobster and octopus salad with a citrus kick paired beautifully with a local white wine.
While many travellers opt for Croatia over Montenegro, the months between June and October are ideal for exploring the more uncharted Balkan towns, where the slow and sleepy Montenegrin lifestyle can quickly become your own.
Fly to Dubrovnik or Split and hire a private car service for approx. 30 euros from Dubrovnik Airport to Herceg Novi, or fly to the inland airport in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica.